|Nancy Healy, manager of Broad Street Books, says the shop’s new cosmetic changes, like the new bookshelf behind her, are meant to create the ambiance of a small independent bookstore.|
|Q: When were you hired to manage Broad Street Books and how is it going so far?
A: I was brought on board in the last week of January. It has been an interesting and eventful month! I have spent this first month learning about the history of the store and getting to know my staff, as well as getting acquainted with Wesleyan. Things are going very well so far, and I am confident that things will continue to get better and better as we move forward.
Q: Please describe the purpose of Broad Street Books.
A: Broad Street Books is a full service bookstore. Our goal is to serve both the Wesleyan and Middletown communitys needs. Students can find all their text materials, a wide selection of trade books, basic supply needs, as well as Wesleyan clothing and gift products.
Q: I hear there has been some changeover at the bookstore.
A: There certainly has been some changeover! In addition to myself, we have a brand new textbook manager, Ben Brown. Ben had been our textbook coordinator for the last year and has had an opportunity to learn about the business from the ground up. Carrie Brochu has also recently come on board as our general merchandise coordinator. Carrie also comes from Barnes and Noble and will be involved in building and promoting our apparel and gift sections.
Q: How many employees are there?
A: Our store employs roughly 20 to 25 people at any given time.
Q: What was the purpose of the bookstores recent remodeling?
A: The bookstore recently underwent some cosmetic changes. The changes are meant to create the ambiance of a small independent bookstore, while still promoting our Wesleyan home. Shoppers will find a redesigned trade book floor, as well as the addition of display bookcases on our mezzanine level. We are in the process of redefining the Broad Street brand. I believe it is important that our presentation and selection are reflective of Wesleyans reputation, as well as respectful of the diverse community that we serve.
Q: As a manager, do you spend more time behind the scenes or do you get much time to mingle with customers and staff?
A: I believe that establishing relationships with my staff and with the community that our store serves is the single most important component to building our success. Our hours differ from many campus bookstores. We are open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and weekends 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. I work weekdays and at least one weekend per month and one night per week. This allows me to interact with all of my staff members, as well as the different segments of our shopping community.
Q: What are typical job duties as a book store manager?
A: I am involved in all facets of our business. Of course, I am responsible for ensuring the operational soundness of the business, customer satisfaction, and sales growth. Currently, two of my main focuses are increasing awareness of the bookstore through the promotion of unique events and networking within the Middletown community, and the re-design of our store website. This will help to provide family, alumni, as well as prospective students access to Wesleyan apparel and gifts, as well as giving students additional access to textbooks during the school year.
Q: What are your daily challenges?
A: Learning all the many aspects of a new company can be challenging. There is something new to confront everyday. However, while I have many friends who cant imagine why I have stayed in retail all these years, the answer is simple. It is never boring. There are always new challenges in creating something. I find managing similar to directing a play. Somehow you are constantly engaged in creating the right dynamic both within your staff, as well as visually to entice your audience, grab their attention. When you finally get the right combination the results are extraordinary.
Q: What led you to Wesleyan and what type of field were you working in before?
A: Actually, I was contacted by a recruiter from Follett Higher Education, the company that runs the bookstore. At that time I was working for Barnes & Noble in the superstore division. I was immediately excited about the possibility of working in an atmosphere that promotes learning, growth and creativity. Previously, I had been an executive team leader for Target stores specializing in operations and merchandising.
Q: What is Follett Higher Education Group and what is the relationship with Wesleyan?
A: Follett Higher Education Group is the company contracted by Wesleyan to operate the bookstore. Follett operates over 700 bookstores at college campuses across the United States, as well as in Canada. Folletts resources provide the store access to many text materials, in particular, a variety of used text titles to help ease costs for students.
Q: What is your favorite book section at Broad Street and why?
A: Im not sure that I have a favorite section. I am quite intrigued by our faculty author sections. I find it fascinating what people are captivated by, and what they choose to write about. The same held true when I worked for Barnes & Noble. I was always interested in the local authors who came in. There are so many wonderful books published by smaller presses that simply dont have the capital to promote them as vigorously as the larger publishing houses. I also love the childrens section.
Q: Do you enjoy reading, yourself? What are your other hobbies and interests?
A: I do enjoy reading. You would be most apt to find me with a biography or history book. I have many interests! I have been engaged in a genealogy project for over a year. It has been an extremely rewarding and fascinating experience. It certainly gives history a new face. I also enjoy music. I play the tenor saxophone and flute. And then theres going to the theater, tennis and I am determined to learn to golf this year.
Q: Tell me about your family.
A: I am very fortunate to have a wonderful and supportive family. My life partner, Melissa, is a trainer with the Hartford Insurance Company. My 15 year old son, Chris, is the best part of everyday. We enjoy doing all kinds of things together. The beach, musicals, museums, and Red Sox games are some of our favorite things to do.
Q: Is there anything youd like to say to your new Broad Street customers?
A: I am always available and open to new ideas. I am excited about the coming months and thrilled to have the opportunity to work on such a thriving campus. Please come visit!
|By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor|